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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Our Galaxy's Magnetic Field from Planck

    01/27/2015 8:31:28 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | January 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What does the magnetic field of our Galaxy look like? It has long been known that a modest magnetic field pervades our Milky Way Galaxy because it is seen to align small dust grains that scatter background light. Only recently, however, has the Sun-orbiting Planck satellite made a high-resolution map of this field. Color coded, the 30-degree wide map confirms, among other things, that the Galaxy's interstellar magnetism is strongest in the central disk. The rotation of charged gas around the Galactic center creates this magnetism, and it is hypothesized that viewed from the top, the Milky Way's magnetic...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Milky Way over the Seven Strong Men Rock Formations

    01/27/2015 8:27:56 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: You may have heard of the Seven Sisters in the sky, but have you heard about the Seven Strong Men on the ground? Located just west of the Ural Mountains, the unusual Manpupuner rock formations are one of the Seven Wonders of Russia. How these ancient 40-meter high pillars formed is yet unknown. The persistent photographer of this featured image battled rough terrain and uncooperative weather to capture these rugged stone towers in winter at night, being finally successful in February of last year. Utilizing the camera's time delay feature, the photographer holds a flashlight in the foreground near...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Twisted Solar Eruptive Prominence

    01/25/2015 1:20:36 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Ten Earths could easily fit in the "claw" of this seemingly solar monster. The monster, actually a huge eruptive prominence, is seen moving out from our Sun in this condensed half-hour time-lapse sequence. This large prominence, though, is significant not only for its size, but its shape. The twisted figure eight shape indicates that a complex magnetic field threads through the emerging solar particles. Differential rotation of gas just inside the surface of the Sun might help account for the surface explosion. The five frame sequence was taken in early 2000 by the Sun-orbiting SOHO satellite. Although large prominences...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Light from Cygnus A

    01/24/2015 12:59:30 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | January 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Celebrating astronomy in this International Year of Light, the detailed image reveals spectacular active galaxy Cygnus A in light across the electromagnetic spectrum. Incorporating X-ray data ( blue) from the orbiting Chandra Observatory, Cygnus A is seen to be a prodigious source of high energy x-rays. But it is actually more famous at the low energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum. One of the brightest celestial sources visible to radio telescopes, at 600 million light-years distant Cygnus A is the closest powerful radio galaxy. Radio emission ( red) extends to either side along the same axis for nearly 300,000...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Interior View [space station]

    01/23/2015 3:57:31 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Some prefer windows, and these are the best available on board the International Space Station. Taken on January 4, this snapshot from inside the station's large, seven-window Cupola module also shows off a workstation for controlling Canadarm2. Used to grapple visiting cargo vehicles and assist astronauts during spacewalks, the robotic arm is just outside the window at the right. The Cupola itself is attached to the Earth-facing or nadir port of the station's Tranquility module, offering dynamic panoramas of our fair planet. Seen from the station's 90 minute long, 400 kilometer high orbit, Earth's bright limb is in view...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Launch to Lovejoy

    01/22/2015 11:42:36 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | January 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blasting skyward an Atlas V rocket carrying a U.S. Navy satellite pierces a cloud bank in this starry night scene captured on January 20. On its way to orbit from Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, planet Earth, the rocket streaks past brightest star Sirius, as seen from a dark beach at Canaveral National Seashore. Above the alpha star of Canis Major, Orion the Hunter strikes a pose familiar to northern winter skygazers. Above Orion is the V-shaped Hyades star cluster, head of Taurus the Bull, and farther still above Taurus it's easy to spot the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Complex Ion Tail of Comet Lovejoy

    01/21/2015 2:52:55 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | January 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What causes the structure in Comet Lovejoy's tail? Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), which is currently at naked-eye brightness and near its brightest, has been showing an exquisitely detailed ion tail. As the name implies, the ion tail is made of ionized gas -- gas energized by ultraviolet light from the Sun and pushed outward by the solar wind. The solar wind is quite structured and sculpted by the Sun's complex and ever changing magnetic field. The effect of the variable solar wind combined with different gas jets venting from the comet's nucleus accounts for the tail's complex structure. Following...
  • Galileo's notebooks may reveal secrets of new planet

    07/09/2009 7:04:30 AM PDT · by decimon · 4 replies · 382+ views
    University of Melbourne ^ | Jul 9, 2009 | Unknown
    Galileo knew he had discovered a new planet in 1613, 234 years before its official discovery date, according to a new theory by a University of Melbourne physicist. Professor David Jamieson, Head of the School of Physics, is investigating the notebooks of Galileo from 400 years ago and believes that buried in the notations is the evidence that he discovered a new planet that we now know as Neptune. A hypothesis of how to look for this evidence has been published in the journal Australian Physics and was presented at the first lecture in the 2009 July Lectures in Physics...
  • Lost in Space: Half of All Stars Are Rogues Between Galaxies

    11/07/2014 1:26:34 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    space.com ^ | Charles Q. Choi
    A star mystery solved? These newfound stars could help solve the so-called "photon underproduction crisis," which suggests that an extraordinary amount of ultraviolet light appears to be missing from the universe. The intergalactic stars could also help address what is known as the "missing baryon problem." Baryons are a class of subatomic particles that includes the protons and neutrons that make up the hearts of atoms inside normal matter. Theories of the formation and evolution of the universe predict there should be far more baryons than scientists currently see. The baryons that astronomers have accounted for in the local cosmic...
  • 'Orphan' alien planet with no parent is found near Earth

    11/14/2012 7:55:04 PM PST · by Altariel · 48 replies
    MSNBC ^ | November 14, 2012 | Mike Wall
    Astronomers have discovered a potential "rogue" alien planet wandering alone just 100 light-years from Earth, suggesting that such starless worlds may be extremely common across the galaxy. The free-floating object, called CFBDSIR2149, is likely a gas giant planet four to seven times more massive than Jupiter, scientists say in a new study unveiled Wednesday. The planet cruises unbound through space relatively close to Earth (in astronomical terms), perhaps after being booted from its own solar system. "If this little object is a planet that has been ejected from its native system, it conjures up the striking image of orphaned worlds,...
  • Mystery Planet: Is a Rogue Giant Orbiting Our Sun?

    02/16/2011 4:51:26 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 62 replies
    Time ^ | Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011 | Michael D. Lemonick
    "What we're really saying," he explains, "is that there's suggestive evidence there might be something out there." And if a new planet exists — something Matese is emphatically not claiming at this point — then the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite should already have an image of it stored somewhere in its enormous database. How suggestive the evidence actually is, though, depends on whom you ask. If you ask Ned Wright, a UCLA astrophysicist and WISE principal investigator, he'll tell you, "It's really kind of flimsy. It's there, but they don't have super data." So while the latest version...
  • Rogue Planets Could Form On Their Own in Interstellar Space

    08/21/2013 8:02:37 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 19 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | August 20, 2013 | Nancy Atkinson on
    Free-floating rogue planets are intriguing objects. These planet-sized bodies adrift in interstellar space were predicted to exist in 1998, and since 2011 several orphan worlds have finally been detected. The leading theory on how these nomadic planets came to exist is that they were they ejected from their parent star system. But new research shows that there are places in interstellar space that might have the right conditions to form planets — with no parent star required. Astronomers from Sweden and Finland have found tiny, round, cold clouds in space that may allow planets to form within, all on their...
  • CFBDSIR2149: An Orphaned Planet Without A Parent Star (VIDEO)

    11/14/2012 5:03:11 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 20 replies
    laitnospot.com ^ | First Posted: Nov 14, 2012 06:59 PM EST | Keerthi Chandrashekar
    Astronomers used ESO's Very Large Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope to find CFBDSIR2149, a free-floating planet with the mass of Jupiter that seems to wander through space without orbiting around a star like most planets we know do. In addition, the planet is actually relatively close to our solar system, only 100 light-years away, and offers scientists a more intimate setting to study a planet and its atmosphere. This isn't the first time that a free-floating object has been found in space, but the previous discoveries haven't provided scientists with enough information to label the body as a planet. Instead,...
  • Free-floating planets in the Milky Way outnumber stars by factors of thousands

    05/10/2012 10:10:10 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 103 replies
    Springer ^ | 5/10/12
    Researchers say life-bearing planets may exist in vast numbers in the space between stars in the Milky WayA few hundred thousand billion free-floating life-bearing Earth-sized planets may exist in the space between stars in the Milky Way. So argues an international team of scientists led by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, Director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham, UK. Their findings are published online in the Springer journal Astrophysics and Space Science. The scientists have proposed that these life-bearing planets originated in the early Universe within a few million years of the Big Bang, and that...
  • Some Stars Capture Rogue Planets

    04/19/2012 12:32:59 PM PDT · by robowombat · 14 replies
    SPX ^ | Apr 20, 2012
    Some Stars Capture Rogue Planets by Staff Writers Boston MA (SPX) Apr 20, 2012 New research suggests that billions of stars in our galaxy have captured rogue planets that once roamed interstellar space. The nomad worlds, which were kicked out of the star systems in which they formed, occasionally find a new home with a different sun. This finding could explain the existence of some planets that orbit surprisingly far from their stars, and even the existence of a double-planet system. "Stars trade planets just like baseball teams trade players," said Hagai Perets of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The...
  • Many Solar System Comets May Be Sun's Stolen Goods

    03/17/2012 11:10:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    Space dot com ^ | February 28, 2012 | Clara Moskowitz
    At least 5 percent of the comets orbiting our sun may have been stolen from other stars, scientists say. Our solar system is thought to include trillions of comets -- small chunks of rock and ice -- that circle the sun in a spherical swarm called the Oort cloud, a region that extendsabout 100,000 times the distance from the Earth to the sun in any direction. The average distance between the Earth and sun is 93 million miles (150 million kilometers). Now scientists suggest that many of these bodies may actually have originated around other stars and were snatched up...
  • When Stars Play Planetary Pinball

    02/15/2012 6:43:00 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Monday, February 7, 2012 | Paul Scott Anderson
    The gravitational pull of large gas giant planets can affect the orbits of smaller planets; that scenario is thought to have occurred in our own solar system. In some cases, the smaller planet may be flung into a much wider orbit, perhaps even 100 times wider than Pluto's. In the case of single stars, that's normally how it ends. In a binary star system, however, the two stars may play a game of "cosmic pinball" with the poor planet first. Moeckel and Dimitri conducted simulations of binary star systems, with two sun-like stars orbiting each other at distances between 250...
  • Giant planet ejected from the solar system

    11/11/2011 5:16:23 AM PST · by decimon · 52 replies · 1+ views
    Southwest Research Institute ^ | November 10, 2011
    Boulder, Colo. — Nov. 10, 2011 — Just as an expert chess player sacrifices a piece to protect the queen, the solar system may have given up a giant planet and spared the Earth, according to an article recently published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. "We have all sorts of clues about the early evolution of the solar system," says author Dr. David Nesvorny of the Southwest Research Institute. "They come from the analysis of the trans-Neptunian population of small bodies known as the Kuiper Belt, and from the lunar cratering record." These clues suggest that the orbits of giant...
  • So Many Lonely Planets with No Star to Guide Them

    05/19/2011 3:01:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    Nature ^ | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Nadia Drake
    Scattered about the Milky Way are floating, Jupiter-mass objects, which are likely to be planets wandering around the Galaxy's core instead of orbiting host stars. But these planets aren't rare occurrences in the interstellar sea: the drifters might be nearly twice as numerous as the most common stars. "This is an amazing result, and if it's right, the implications for planet formation are profound," says astronomer Debra Fischer at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. To find the wanderers, scientists turned their telescopes towards the Galactic Bulge surrounding the centre of the Milky Way. Using a technique called gravitational microlensing,...
  • Lonely Rogue Worlds Surprisingly Outnumber Planets with Suns

    05/18/2011 8:47:19 PM PDT · by Redcitizen · 148 replies · 1+ views
    Space.com ^ | 05/18/2011 | Mike Wall
    Astronomers have discovered a whole new class of alien planet: a vast population of Jupiter-mass worlds that float through space without any discernible host star, a new study finds. While some of these exoplanets could potentially be orbiting a star from very far away, the majority of them most likely have no parent star at all, scientists say. And these strange worlds aren't mere statistical anomalies. They likely outnumber "normal" alien planets with obvious parent stars by at least 50 percent, and they're nearly twice as common in our galaxy as main-sequence stars, according to the new study. Astronomers have...
  • Neptune may have eaten a planet and stolen its moon

    04/03/2010 9:16:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies · 771+ views
    New Scientist ^ | March 22, 2010 | David Shiga
    Neptune's own existence was a puzzle until recently. The dusty cloud that gave birth to the planets probably thinned out further from the sun. With building material so scarce, it is hard to understand how Uranus and Neptune, the two outermost planets, managed to get so big. But what if they formed closer in? In 2005, a team of scientists proposed that the giant planets shifted positions in an early upheaval (New Scientist, 25 November 2006, p 40). In this scenario, Uranus and Neptune formed much closer to the sun and migrated outwards, possibly swapping places in the process. That...
  • Evening Lectures on Migrating Planets, Hazardous Asteroids Search

    09/19/2009 8:05:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies · 379+ views
    University of Arizona ^ | September 4, 2009 | University Communications
    The University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is launching its Fall 2009 Evening Lecture Series with talks on wandering solar system planets and searches for hazardous asteroids from Mount Lemmon... Planetary sciences professor Renu Malhotra will speak on "Migrating Planets" on Tuesday, Sept. 15. [whoops] Did the solar system always look the way it is now? New studies by Malhotra and others find that the outer planets -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune -- were more tightly clustered in the early solar system, then moved away from each other. Malhotra's models show that as the solar system evolved, Jupiter...
  • Milky Way could hold hundreds of rogue black holes: study

    01/09/2008 3:07:12 PM PST · by NormsRevenge · 14 replies · 191+ views
    AFP on Yahoo ^ | 1/09/08 | AFP
    CHICAGO (AFP) - Hundreds of rogue black holes may be roaming around the Milky Way waiting to engulf stars and planets that cross their path, US astronomers said Wednesday. The astronomers believe these "intermediate mass" black holes are invisible except in rare circumstances and have been spawned by mergers of black holes within globular clusters -- swarms of stars held together by their mutual gravity. These black holes are unlikely to pose a threat to Earth, but may engulf nebulae, stars and planets that stray into their paths, the researchers said. "These rogue black holes are extremely unlikely to do...
  • Planets in all the wrong places

    03/06/2006 5:16:39 PM PST · by KevinDavis · 20 replies · 870+ views
    The Christian Science Monitor ^ | 03/06/06 | Michelle Thaller
    At my age, I really should have expected this to happen. All of a sudden I'm seeing lots of little clues that the 1980s are making something of a nostalgic comeback. High school kids I speak to as part of my job have started wearing thin ties and studded belts, and I thoroughly approve of their newly spiked and teased hairstyles. The other day I saw a pair of plastic sandals (remember Jellies?) in a store window and heard Bon Jovi playing on a "classic rock" station. That's right; I'm a golden oldie. Take, for instance, the fact that when...
  • Epic cosmic radio burst finally seen in real time

    01/20/2015 10:42:42 AM PST · by Red Badger · 25 replies
    www.newscientist.com ^ | 08:00 19 January 2015 | by Michael Slezak
    A gigantic but fleeting burst of radio waves has been caught in the act for the first time, helping to narrow down the vast array of things that might cause them. Figuring out what these fast radio bursts are or where they come from could help answer some of the biggest cosmological questions. They last about a millisecond but give off as much energy as the sun does in a day, all seemingly in a tight band of radio-frequency waves. Their source is a mystery, but whatever causes them must be huge, cataclysmic and up to 5.5 billion light years...
  • Two more planets in our Solar System, say astronomers

    01/20/2015 8:54:04 AM PST · by Red Badger · 51 replies
    www.businessinsider.com ^ | Jan. 19, 2015, 8:40 AM | Richard INGHAM, AFP
    Paris (AFP) - The Solar System has at least two more planets waiting to be discovered beyond the orbit of Pluto, Spanish and British astronomers say. The official list of planets in our star system runs to eight, with gas giant Neptune the outermost. Beyond Neptune, Pluto was relegated to the status of "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union in 2006, although it is still championed by some as the most distant planet from the Sun. In a study published in the latest issue of the British journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers propose that "at...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Approaching Asteroid Ceres

    01/20/2015 5:55:25 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | January 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt -- what secrets does it hold? To find out, NASA has sent the robotic Dawn spacecraft to explore and map this cryptic 1,000-kilometer wide world: Ceres. Orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is officially categorized as a dwarf planet but has never been imaged in detail. Featured here is a 20-frame video taken a week ago of Dawn's approach that now rivals even the best images of Ceres ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The video shows enough surface definition to discern its 9-hour rotation period. On target to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Infrared Orion from WISE

    01/18/2015 11:53:07 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | January 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion is an intriguing place. Visible to the unaided eye, it appears as a small fuzzy patch in the constellation of Orion. But this image, an illusory-color four-panel mosaic taken in different bands of infrared light with the Earth orbiting WISE observatory, shows the Orion Nebula to be a bustling neighborhood or recently formed stars, hot gas, and dark dust. The power behind much of the Orion Nebula (M42) is the stars of the Trapezium star cluster, seen near the center of the above wide field image. The orange glow surrounding the bright stars pictured...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Galactic Core in Infrared

    01/18/2015 3:24:38 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | January 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy? To help find out, the orbiting Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have combined their efforts to survey the region in unprecedented detail in infrared light. Milky Way's center because visible light is more greatly obscured by dust. The above image encompasses over 2,000 images from the Hubble Space Telescope's NICMOS taken in 2008. The image spans 300 by 115 light years with such high resolution that structures only 20 times the size of our own Solar System are discernable. Clouds of glowing gas and dark dust as well as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy's Tail

    01/17/2015 8:42:18 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sweeping north in planet Earth's sky, Comet Lovejoy's greenish coma and blue tinted ion tail stretched across this field of stars in the constellation Taurus on January 13. The inset at the upper left shows the 1/2 degree angular size of the full moon for scale. So Lovejoy's coma appears only a little smaller (but much fainter) than a full moon on the sky, and its tail is visible for over 4 degrees across the frame. That corresponds to over 5 million kilometers at the comet's estimated distance of 75 million kilometers from Earth. Blown by the solar wind,...
  • Beagle 2 found on surface of Mars after vanishing for 12 years [UK Spacecraft]

    01/16/2015 6:13:59 AM PST · by Red Badger · 21 replies
    Telegraph UK ^ | 10:00AM GMT 16 Jan 2015 | By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor
    Britain's Beagle 2 lander has finally been spotted, 12 years after it went missing while trying to land on the surface of Mars History books will need to be rewritten after scientists announced today that Beagle 2 has been finally been found on Mars, 12 years after it vanished without trace. The beleaguered spacecraft, which has become a byword for mission failure, was spotted by scientists operating the HiRise camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). It was discovered just 5km from its original touchdown site in the Isidis Planitia basin. And it appears that just one faulty motor was...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Huygens Lands on Titan [flashback]

    01/16/2015 5:24:30 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | January 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Delivered by Saturn-bound Cassini, ESA's Huygens probe touched down on the ringed planet's largest moon Titan, ten years ago on January 14, 2005. These panels show fisheye images made during its slow descent by parachute through Titan's dense atmosphere. Taken by the probe's descent imager/spectral radiometer instrument they range in altitude from 6 kilometers (upper left) to 0.2 kilometers (lower right) above the moon's surprisingly Earth-like surface of dark channels, floodplains, and bright ridges. But at temperatures near -290 degrees C, the liquids flowing across Titan's surface are methane and ethane, hydrocarbons rather than water. After making the most...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Venus and Mercury at Sunset

    01/15/2015 4:23:51 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Inner planets Venus and Mercury can never wander far from the Sun in Earth's sky. This week you've probably seen them both gathered near the western horizon just after sunset, a close conjunction of bright celestial beacons in the fading twilight. The pair are framed in this early evening skyview captured on January 13 from the ruins of Szarvasko Castle in northwestern Hungary. Above the silhouette of the landscape's prominent volcanic hill Venus is much the brighter, separated from Mercury by little more than the width of two Full Moons. On Friday, planet Earth's early morning risers will also...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Hunter, the Bull, and Lovejoy

    01/14/2015 8:19:27 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | January 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Heading north, Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is putting on its best show for comet watchers now, with moonlight absent from mid-January's early evening skies. An easy binocular target and just visible to the unaided eye from dark sites, the comet sweeps across the constellation Taurus the Bull in this deep night skyscape. The starry scene was captured just two days ago on January 12, from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, planet Earth. In fact, the head of Taurus formed by the V-shaped Hyades star cluster points toward Lovejoy at the right. The comet's greenish coma and tail streaming in the anti-sunward...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Soap Bubble Nebula

    01/13/2015 12:18:40 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Adrift in the rich star fields of the constellation Cygnus, this lovely, symmetric nebula was only recognized a few years ago and does not yet appear in some astronomical catalogs. In fact, amateur astronomer Dave Jurasevich identified it as a nebula on 2008 July 6 in his images of the complex Cygnus region that included the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888). He subsequently notified the International Astronomical Union. Only eleven days later the same object was independently identified by Mel Helm at Sierra Remote Observatories, imaged by Keith Quattrocchi and Helm, and also submitted to the IAU as a potentially...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- SuperPlanetCrash [game]

    01/12/2015 1:00:16 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    SuperPlanetCrash Click on the type of body to add next: 1xEarth5xSuper-Earth15xIce giant300xGiant planet5,000xBrown dwarf30,000xDwarf star HelpEnd Game CloseNew game To beat Super Planet Crash, create a planetary system that can survive for 500 years. You can gain more points by adding more bodies (up to 10 bodies). Add bodies by clicking anywhere.The more massive the body, the more points! From 1 point for an Earth-mass planet, to 30,000 for a stellar companion. But remember, each planet attracts each other gravitationally and you don't want your system to go KABOOM!You will lose the game if two bodies crash with each...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cataclysmic Dawn [art]

    01/11/2015 11:49:40 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | January 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Will this dawn bring another nova? Such dilemmas might be pondered one day by future humans living on a planet orbiting a cataclysmic variable binary star system. Cataclysmic variables involve gas falling from a large star onto an accretion disk surrounding a massive but compact white dwarf star. Explosive cataclysmic events such as a dwarf nova can occur when a clump of gas in the interior of the accretion disk heats up past a certain temperature. At that point, the clump will fall more quickly onto the white dwarf and land with a bright flash. Such dwarf novas will...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Windmill's Moon

    01/10/2015 6:22:29 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | January 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Seen from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, this bright Full Moon rose at sunset. Reaching its full phase on the night of January 4/5, it was the first Full Moon of the new year and the first to follow December's solstice. Of course, in North America the first Full Moon of January has been known as the Wolf's Moon. But this Full Moon, posed in the twilight above an island of strong winds and traditional windmills, suggests another name. The telephoto image, taken at a distance from the foreground windmill, creates the dramatic comparison in apparent size for windmill...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- In the Arms of NGC 1097

    01/10/2015 6:20:58 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | January 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spiral galaxy NGC 1097 shines in southern skies, about 45 million light-years away in the chemical constellation Fornax. Its blue spiral arms are mottled with pinkish star forming regions in this colorful galaxy portrait. They seem to have wrapped around a small companion galaxy below and left of center, about 40,000 light-years from the spiral's luminous core. That's not NGC 1097's only peculiar feature, though. The very deep exposure hints of faint, mysterious jets, most easily seen to extend well beyond the bluish arms toward the left. In fact, four faint jets are ultimately recognized in optical images of...
  • Mystery object in Saturn's ring may be a new baby moon: Peggy

    04/16/2014 1:38:33 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 31 replies
    L A Times ^ | April 15, 2014, 6:30 a.m. | By Karen Kaplan
    The moons that orbit Saturn may be increasing by one -- an icy, pint-sized object that astronomers have named “Peggy.” NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spotted evidence that a mysterious object measuring perhaps half a mile across is disturbing the outer edge of Saturn’s large, bright A ring. The object’s gravity seems to have roughed up the ring’s usually smooth profile. As a result, a stretch of the A ring that measures 750 miles long and 6 miles wide is now about 20% brighter than it would typically appear. The fuzzy blob on the A ring’s edge was imaged by Cassini’s...
  • Hubble Telescope Spies Fifth Moon Around Pluto

    07/11/2012 4:48:24 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 19 replies
    AP) ^ | July 11, 2012 10:30 AM
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — There’s something lurking around distant and icy dwarf planet Pluto: a fifth moon. A team of scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope said Wednesday they have discovered the tiniest moon yet around Pluto. That brings the number of known moons to five. The mini-moon is estimated to be 6 to 15 miles across, smaller than the one that scientists spotted last year, which is 8 to 21 miles wide. Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, is about 650 miles across. Until the newly found moon gets a name, it will be known as P5.
  • Super-Earths give theorists a super headache

    12/17/2011 4:48:48 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies
    Nature ^ | Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | Eric Hand
    NASA's Kepler space telescope... has identified 2,326 candidate planets, nearly doubling its haul since February. But what has puzzled observers and theorists so far is the high proportion of planets -- roughly one-third to one-half -- that are bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune... Their very existence upsets conventional models of planetary formation and, furthermore, most of them are in tight orbits around their host star, precisely where the modellers say they shouldn't be. "It poses a challenge," says Douglas Lin, a planet-formation modeller and director of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University in Beijing,...
  • Incredible picture of Saturn that runs rings around all the others

    09/07/2011 4:40:19 PM PDT · by EveningStar · 49 replies
    The Daily Mail ^ | September 7, 2011 | Ted Thornhill
    There have been some amazing photographs taken of Saturn over the years, but none quite like this.
  • Astronomers Predict That Pluto Has A Ring

    08/08/2011 6:20:20 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 21 replies
    MIT Technology Review ^ | 08-08-2011 | Staff
    Dust from Pluto's satellites ought to form a faint ring around the dwarf planet, according to new calculations Until recently, the only ring in the Solar System was Saturn's. But in 1960s and 70s, astronomers discovered rings around Uranus and Neptune. Meanwhile, the Voyager 1spacecraft sent back images of Jupiter's ring. To be sure, these rings are much less impressive than Saturn's but the implications are clear: rings seem much more common than astronomers once thought. Perhaps they are even the norm. And that raises an interesting question: could Pluto possibly have a ring? The observational evidence is that Pluto...
  • What's that weird thing around Saturn's second-largest moon? (Rhea)

    08/01/2010 12:29:26 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 23 replies · 4+ views
    CSMonitor | UniverseToday ^ | 7/29/10 | Nancy Atkinson
    There is something around the moon of Rhea. It's not a ring, and it sure is weird, say researchers.Back in 2005, a suite of six instruments on the Cassini spacecraft detected what was thought to be an extensive debris disk around Saturn's moon Rhea, and while there was no visible evidence, researchers thought that perhaps there was a diffuse ring around the moon. This would have been the first ring ever found around a moon. New observations, however, have nixed the idea of a ring, but there's still something around Rhea that is causing a strange, symmetrical structure in the...
  • NASA Discovers A Ring Around The Solar System

    10/18/2009 9:05:17 PM PDT · by Defiant · 45 replies · 3,624+ views
    NPR ^ | October 18, 2009 | unknown
    NASA scientists have discovered a mysterious ribbon around our solar system —- a stripe made of hydrogen —- that defies all current expectations about what the edge of the solar system might look like. Richard Fisher, the director of NASA's Heliophysics Division, tells NPR's Guy Raz that this discovery is a big moment for the scientific community. "We thought we knew everything about everything, and it turned out that there were unknown unknowns."
  • The Curious Case of Missing Asteroids

    03/03/2009 7:31:32 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 35 replies · 720+ views
    NASA Solar System Exploration ^ | February 25, 2009 | Lori Stiles
    University of Arizona scientists have uncovered a curious case of missing asteroids. The main asteroid belt is a zone containing millions of rocky objects between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The scientists find that there ought to be more asteroids there than researchers observe. The missing asteroids may be evidence of an event that took place about 4 billion years ago, when the solar system's giant planets migrated to their present locations. UA planetary sciences graduate student David A. Minton and UA planetary sciences professor Renu Malhotra say missing asteroids is an important piece of evidence to support an...
  • Saturn Moon Rhea May Have rings (Neat!)

    03/06/2008 2:11:24 PM PST · by Pyro7480 · 18 replies · 200+ views
    Yahoo! News (AP) ^ | 3/6/2008 | n/a
    PASADENA, Calif. - New observations by a spacecraft suggest Saturn's second-largest moon may be surrounded by rings. If confirmed, it would the first time a ring system has been found around a moon. The international Cassini spacecraft detected what appeared to be a large debris disk around the 950-mile-wide moon Rhea during a flyby in 2005. Scientists proposed that the halo likely contained particles ranging from the size of grains to boulders. The finding was described in a study published in the March 7 issue of the journal Science. Unlike the rings around Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, the apparent...
  • Kinks in Saturn's Rings

    11/13/2007 11:02:21 AM PST · by Swordmaker · 23 replies · 102+ views
    Thunderbolts.org ^ | 11/12/2007
      Edge-on image of Saturn's F-ring. Credit: NASA/JPL Cassini-Huygens mission.   Nov 12, 2007Kinks in Saturn's RingsBraids and twists in the rings of Saturn suggest activity in addition to gravitational attraction. Could electricity be one of the formative agents? Saturn's F-ring was discovered by Pioneer 11 during its 1979 flyby of the giant planet. When the Voyager 1 space probe passed by Saturn in November of 1980, it returned stunning pictures of Saturn's rings that were completely unanticipated. Two of the most intriguing discoveries were the "spokes" seen drifting above the ring plane and the twisted and interlaced structure...
  • Neptune News [Neptune's warming correlates to Earth's warming and solar activity]

    05/31/2007 11:29:24 AM PDT · by grundle · 64 replies · 3,777+ views
    Neptune is the planet farthest from the Sun (Pluto is now considered only a dwarf planet), Neptune is the planet farthest from the Earth, and to our knowledge, there has been absolutely no industrialization out at Neptune in recent centuries. There has been no recent build-up of greenhouse gases there, no deforestation, no rapid urbanization, no increase in contrails from jet airplanes, and no increase in ozone in the low atmosphere; recent changes at Neptune could never be blamed on any human influence. Incredibly, an article has appeared in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters showing a stunning relationship...